Malloy budget: fact or fiction?
By Sen. Joe Markley
When I first read a newspaper article stating Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had proposed a balanced budget with no new taxes, I had to catch my breath. I know what the governor’s proposed budget looks like. I can assure you it’s not honestly balanced, and it does raise taxes.
Here are the facts. The governor says there are no new taxes in his budget. In fact, he proposes continuing hospital and electric generation taxes that were set to expire — and which businesses had been told they would not have to pay. These may not be new taxes, but they’re old taxes about to go away that Gov. Malloy has revived.
The governor claims his budget reduces spending by $1.8 billion. Trouble is, it’s the current services budget he’s cutting — a budget with huge increases built into it, which simply lets state government keep growing. The reduction the governor proposes merely reduces the rate of increase.
Contrary to Gov. Malloy’s claims, we are not living within our means. In fact, his budget would increase state spending by nearly 10 percent over two years. That is not getting our finances in order.
The governor says he is helping the middle class by eliminating the property tax on cars. I’m all for cutting taxes, but getting rid of the car tax the way the governor proposes — with no offsetting revenue — sticks our cities and towns with major revenue losses.
In Southington, for instance, the car tax raises an estimated $9 million. What will town leaders do to make up for the loss of that money?
The only option — especially at this late point in the municipal budget process — is to raise property taxes on homes and businesses. So if you own a home or rent an apartment, expect the cost to go up. That’s not helping the middle class.
The administration claims the budget proposal will keep cities and towns whole. That is untrue. Not only will municipalities have trouble making up for the car-tax revenue, but the governor has proposed a change in state aid to communities, which would restrict the way state funds could be spent. I believe we should trust municipal government, and give town leaders more flexibility in decision-making instead of tying their hands.
This budget also savagely cuts aid to hospitals. The governor’s plan cuts hospital funding by $208 million in its first year and $342.4 million in the second year. Hospital CEOs have expressed great concern about this proposal, and rightly so. Hospitals bear many costs already without reimbursement; this will only put them in a more vulnerable position. Jobs will be lost, patient care might be jeopardized, and communities could lose their cornerstone if the governor’s draconian cuts take effect.
On many levels, this budget is dishonest, spends too much and harms the very people it purports to help. I cannot support this budget as written, and I trust a very different version will be put before the legislature before we adjourn in June.